It’s summer. It’s quiet down the corridors, email traffic has slowed down and you may have found yourself with some added free time on your hands. So here it is: a new blog post listing some science podcasts we think you should be listening to. Perfect for during one of those mind-numbing tasks (manually copying Excel tables?), your bicycle ride to work, a road trip down south, or just a lazy afternoon by the swimming pool.
We divided our list into five English and five Dutch podcasts to make sure there is something for everyone. I’ve listened to each of them intensively and made sure they are up to par. No empty suggestions here.
How to listen to a podcast? Download your favorite podcast app, search the name of the podcast you want to listen to, and that’s it! (my personal preference is Podcast Addict)
1. Daniel & Jorge Explain the Universe (link)
A spin-off from the book ‘We have no idea’, in which Daniel (physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Jorge (illustrator of the PhD comics) delve deeper into those topics to which science has not yet established an answer. From the Dyson sphere to wormholes. Two men discussing physics, jargon-free and worry-free. Nothing more, nothing less.
2. The infinite Monkey Cage (link)
The show is organized as a panel discussion on sciences in radio form (it is produced for the BBC), featuring a panel of scientists and one comedian. The scientists in this podcast are always exceptionally articulate and humorous and are at great ease clearly discussing their topic.
3. Radiolab (link)
Radiolab releases lengthier podcasts, often on the topic of an interesting story that they go on to examine in depth. Insanely high production value, we would say. The show is very professionally made, the crew puts in a massive amount of research, they do numerous interviews, and all of the content is cleverly edited. A definite reference in the realm of podcasts.
4. The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry (link)
Hannah Fry is a British mathematician. She is a lecturer of Mathematics and is an active media figure. In each semi-weekly episode of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, she and Adam Rutherford investigate a number of ‘everyday mysteries’. Such as ‘Why do we have regional accents?’, ‘Does infinity exist? And why are some infinities bigger than others?” or “Why do we all have different pain thresholds?”
5. The Z-list Deadlist (link)
Do you enjoy lesser-known, perhaps obscure stories? In The Z-list Deadlist, presenter Iszi Lawrence digs up (deceased) people who have fallen between the cracks of history and places them back on their pedestal. From just the two episodes that I listened to so far, I was able to pull several fun facts that I now use in one of my talk intros.
(for the Dutch subscribers to the blog!)
6. Universiteit van Vlaanderen (link)
The Universiteit van Vlaanderen podcast specializes in interesting lectures on stimulating topics. Each talk is approximately 15 minutes. Although the lectures can be viewed on YouTube, I personally prefer to listen to them via podcast. There are some 150 episodes (at least at the time of writing this post), covering topics ranging from relationships to radiotherapy, from elementary particles to elementary language rules. Select several topics that appeal to you, or listen to them all!
7. Nerdland Maandoverzicht (link)
In Nerdland Maandoverzicht, a charming mix of nerds and geeks gives us an up-close look of the past month’s science news. Each edition is fun-filled, and with around 26,000 listeners each month they’ve built a pretty strong fan base. Popular topics include life sciences, IT, insects, physics, wombat droppings and Elon Musk. Best-known Nerd in the studio is Lieven Scheire. Tip: You can also listen to older episodes. They continue being educational and are simply a pleasure to listen to. They’ve appeared twice as a live guest on Sound of Science.
8. Koffie Curieus (link)
A fairly new podcast offering ‘science at a leisurely Sunday pace’ by Jonas Vandicke, researcher at the Ghent University . The podcast is remarkably high-quality, offering multiple audio fragments, various categories and all the necessary bells and whistles. Clearly, plenty of effort goes into the making of this program. Jonas recommends listening to the show with a nice cup of coffee in your hands, relaxing in your lazy chair. But just as with any podcast, I think it is best to listen to while doing something else. (My favorite podcast moments are while riding my bike, taking my baby/toddler for a walk, or while washing the dishes, hanging out the laundry, or doing any other mind-numbing administrative task).
9. Geheugenissen (link)
A podcast geared to those of us who enjoy picking up historical facts. You are immediately greeted by the pleasant radio voice of Julie Van Bogaert (also from Ghent University). The Geheugenissen podcast offers not only a trove of fascinating stories about the Middle Ages, but now and then there is time for a quick time travel trip to another era.
10 Interne Keuken (link)
Weekly show on Radio 1 that can also be retrieved as a podcast. Sven Speybroeck and Koen Fillet present ‘interesting radio on boring topics’. The topics are not exactly boring, but are merely less accessible and don’t generally make it into the media. They always manage to distill an interesting discussion and are masters at asking just the right questions.
This list is far from complete. Suggestions are always welcome in the comments or on Twitter.